What do you think would have happened if things took place in the world without anyone's consent? Would the world be a better place to live in if people did things according to others' will? What would the consequences be if no one ever took permission before making a move on someone else? Why is asking someone for their agreement, before we drain them with colors on Holi, of paramount importance?
These are the questions that many of us will have various answers to. These questions are quite debatable when asked in the context of playing Holi- a joyous festival of colors. The world can be separated into two wide groups when the question, "Should we color someone without their will? is asked. The answer is simple: DON'T. Two things need to be kept in mind: personal space and consent. You can get away with anything in India by calling it a Festival. We have normalized the behavior of invading someone's personal space and defacing them physically without their will, all in the name of festivals and celebrations.
Violating personal spaces is the nature of most Indians. We are conditioned to always be around one and other, so much so that it does not even occur to us when we are in somebody else's space. We take this distance for granted. Holi, for me, is an escalation of this problem.
Holi is a festival celebrated to mark the triumph of good over evil. However, people generally behave as though the Almighty has given them a free pass to be a total airhead for the day. The main problem is that at some point, Holi caters to the sadism that exists within most of us. It is about deriving maximum pleasure by jeopardizing something that can be be done in a really subtle, clean way and in perfect order.
What really annoys me the most is the excuse that follows after drenching unsuspecting victims with color and muck. The perpetrator expects to get away by just saying, "Bura na mano, Holi hai". What sort of an excuse or an apology is this? You do something as bizarre, without the person's knowledge or consent and instead of apologizing, you just justify your actions. Isn't it ridiculous?
You certainly would not appreciate it if I just punched you, out of the blue, without you aware of it, someday and said, "Bura na mano, punch hai".
If you don't partake in this forced form of "Fun" and resist a strange pair of hands making contact with your body, you are labeled as a 'party-pooper' or a 'killjoy' or a 'spoilsport'. And the person submerging somebody in mud water and applying colors that would probably take days to wear off becomes the good guy and the one in full spirits to enjoy and celebrate the festival. His way of having fun is publicized and encouraged, while you are left, all by yourself in a corner.
People's definition of having fun changes from time to time. You definitely would not see people standing near bombs or fire-crackers or people bursting them during Diwali to have fun. It is then, you will notice that people will stand as far as they can so as to not hurt themselves and also find happiness in watching the sky gets filled with various beautiful colors.
Can this not be done during Holi as well? Can people not trespass other's personal spaces and still enjoy the festival with others? Can't such a beautiful holy day be spent without hurting someone? Can't the thought of being around your loved ones be enough to satisfy your need to have immense fun and joy?
Over and over again, consent is side-stepped as diesel is mixed in liquid paint and ink powder is blended in water-soluble colors to trick the reluctant. Many women fall victim to this vicious, gross violation.
On any other day, men holding down reluctant women and smearing colors on them, chasing them down the streets and throwing water missiles at them would invoke public outrage and penalty. People would start piling up on streets protesting against the assault. Suddenly, all of the countries would start feeling for the victim and wants the accused behind the bars or hung to death because he has committed a heinous crime which he should be punished for. But why does all of the country become silent and all the protesters go into hiding when the same is done on Holi? Is it because the accused isn't recognizable due to their stained face or something? Does the person who does it on the day of not seem like a criminal, anymore?
Holi is that one day which is an open ground for Sexual Predators. Lots of women are wary of stepping out on this day as they are vulnerable to being touched without their consent. Perpetrators usually take advantage of being concealed in colors and many victims do not even realize that they are being assaulted or being touched inappropriately.
I feel the festival must not be demeaned and be celebrated the wrong way. Our previous generations celebrated the same festival in a much better, cleaner and happier way. Except for the era, there is no major difference between them and us. Although we say we are in the 21st century, we must not neglect the importance of our roots. Being advanced than the previous generations does not give us the right to do the same things, what they did, in such an "advanced" and "complicated" way that it may hurt somebody.
Festivals are meant to celebrate our glorious heritage, our beautiful cultures, and traditions. They are one of the reasons that a busy man can spend the time of his life with his family and rejoice special moments and emotions with their loved ones.
Let us not do something just for our fun and enjoy our day that might ruin the day for the others and hurt them...
What would you say to those who don't understand consent?
NOTE: There are going to be many out there who might disagree with my views on the same. Please understand that whatever I have written wasn't meant to hurt somebody's sentiments. They are just my opinions. If there is anybody who feels offended due to my statements, I apologize to them from the depths of my heart!!